Despite the flaws, Fallout 3 is well worth a look
Fallout 3 was released by Bethesda at the end of 2008, and in the process quickly became a late challenger for countless 'Game Of The Year' awards alongside huge titles like Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4 and many others that had subsequently been hyped to insane levels. By contrast I hadn't even realised that Bethesda had been working on Fallout for a release last year, and upon investigating it further I found myself pleasantly surprised. Whilst retaining many of the RPG elements central to Bethesda's Elder Scrolls games, Fallout 3 also draws inspiration from the older titles in the franchise to create a mixture of modern and retro that for the most part provides a fresh and engaging experience. However, in what can be considered in many ways a reinvention of the series for the current generation of platforms, fans of the earlier games may find themselves disappointed with a sequel that in the eyes of some essentially amounts to “Oblivion with guns”.
The main concept of the game revolves around your vault-dwelling protagonist venturing out into the wastelandsof Washington D.C. for the first time in your life in order to find your recently exiled father, whose actions on the outside remain shrouded in mystery for the first half of the game. One big difference here between Fallout 3 and Oblivion is that the central storyline is much more focused and slightly more linear than that of the earlier game. The post-apocalyptic setting also retains the dark humour of the game's immediate predecessors, and feels very much an homage to the 1950's Cold War doomsday scenario mindset that emerged as fear of nuclear war grew in the United States during that era.
The open-ended world on offer is nothing short of breathtaking, and there is plenty to see and do in the D.C. Wasteland. Whilst there are many side-quests that will occupy much of your time, as I mentioned before the main quest is by contrast fairly linear. This highlights perhaps the biggest flaw in the game, namely that Fallout 3's desire to remain open-ended but also to offer a complete narrative in the end ensures that neither feels completely satisfying. When you finish the game's main quest, the game ends, forcing you to reload a previous save if you want to continue playing the side quests. This doesn't prove to be that much of an inconvenience providing you save regularly, but it feels jarring all the same. Aside from that though, there really is much to like. Graphically very detailed, the game's visuals bring the decimated environment to life in a convincing fashion, and the audio's atmospheric but sparse approach fits perfectly.
Combat in Fallout 3 can be approached in one of two ways, or a combination of both. The player can either manually attack a combatant in real-time in which successful attacks are dependent on your character's stats, or choose to use V.A.T.S. This system allows you to essentially freeze the game, input your chosen target, and then spend attack points on various combat decisions based on your weapon's range and abilities. I found V.A.T.S. To be largely very satisfying overall, but some people seemed disappointed with the exclusion of a standard FPS set-up. Whilst different from the norm in many ways, I found the combat in Fallout 3 to be satisfying if a little clunky at times, but all the same vastly preferable to that of the Elder Scrolls games.
Overall, I found Fallout 3 to be a very satisfying package as a whole, and well worth the money in terms of entertainment value. It has its fair share of technical glitches and feels a bit unpolished in parts, but upon completing the game I couldn't honestly say any of these things negatively impacted my enjoyment in any significant way. I think I'm with Jeff on this one, as I certainly felt that Fallout 3's positives outweighed any problems that became evident throughout my time with the game, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a deep and immersive experience. I would however urge you to consider buying the PC or Xbox versions over the PS3 release, as the downloadable content on these platforms is the icing on the cake.